TEN races on ITV Saturday – yes that’s 10 races! It’s fair to say we are well and truly back and raring to go with four meetings to cover from Ascot, Wincanton, Haydock and Gowran Park.
The 1.35pm at Ascot is a Grade 2 novices’ chase over 3m. I was at Hexham when TOP VILLE BEN won in November, and he then went to Wetherby and looked really good there. He’s a bold front-runner for Philip Kirby and will be hard to peg back, though its his biggest test to date.
Next at Ascot is a Listed handicap chase over 3m at 2.10pm. Former Gold Cup winner CONEYGREE returned this season in great form at Cheltenham, although he disappointed a bit in the King George when unseating Sean Bowen. Nico de Boinville is back on top now and this looks a great chance – if he’s got another win in him. Good luck to Mark Bradstock.
The 2.45pm at Ascot is the rescheduled Denman Chase over 3m and carries Grade 2 status. Quite simply this has cut up badly, and it will be a major surprise if the King George winner CLAN DES OBEAUX isn’t far too good for these. He’s not the easiest of rides but will be short odds for Paul Nicholls.
The 3.20pm at Ascot is the Betfair handicap hurdle over nearly 2m. LISP is up 15lb since his last win and up 5lb for a defeat last time. However, he’s a classy horse and might be able to carry top-weight to victory for Alan King. Worth an each-way bet after a fine second at Ascot last time to Global Citizen and Paddy’s paying the first 5 home.
And finally at Ascot, it’s the Grade 1 Ascot Chase over 2m 5f at 3.55pm. Cyrname was awesome last time here, but his running style should set this up for WAITING PATIENTLY who was brilliant last year when beating Cue Card. He was unlucky to lose the rider in the King George when hampered. This is a big day for Ruth Jefferson.
Meanwhile, over at Wincanton the 1.45pm is a handicap chase over nearly 2m. ADMIRAL’S SECRET refused to race when last season, 28 days ago. However, prior to that he was in good form for Victor Dartnall and I’m hoping that was just a blip.
The 3.00pm at Wincanton is the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle. An odd renewal of this race, with VISION DES FLOS looking the obvious one after his second to Buveur d’Air at Sandown last time. He doesn’t win many, but this is a good chance against the chaser Sceau Royal. Hard to beat for Colin Tizzard.
ITV4 show the 1.55pm at Haydock, the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle over an extended 3m. This marks the return of Yanworth, who would have every chance at his best. However, DONNA’S DIAMOND might just give the weight away as a horse who is fit and well and stays strong. Could land this again for Chris Grant.
The 3.35pm at Haydock is a Grand National Trial over nearly 3m 5f. Some familiar names here, and I like the look of the Warwick winner IMPULSIVE STAR who stayed on really well to score last time. This horse is getting better all the time and a win may have improved confidence for the nine-year-old and Neil Mulholland.
And the other race being shown on ITV4 is the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park at 2.30pm, which sadly does not have Presenting Percy in it but is a Grade 2 over 2m 4f. RSA runner-up MONALEE has to get back to winning ways here now if he has a realistic chance of winning anything at Cheltenham for Henry de Bromhead. He’s a sound jumper and gives Rachael Blackmore a huge chance of getting a Gold Cup ride.
So best of luck and pray for 10 Yeeehaaas. You hear me Paddy?